It was five years ago today that my wife and I went on our first date. Even if she didn’t realize it at the time.
The picture you are seeing now was taken back in March 2007; about a month after our first date… already so much in love.
But how did it all begin?
Jill Tuttle was the only one of my friends who wanted to go with me to see John Mayer in concert two hours away in Huntsville, Alabama.
This was convenient for me because I had a huge crush on her for the past four months, since meeting her at a CMT taping of the show, Crossroads.
I had been deliberately nurturing an authentic friendship with her by initiating a Sunday night tradition of meeting at Starbucks to “catch up.” We had both talked about our mutual love for John Mayer’s music. I knew that her favorite song of his was “Back To You.”
So I made the most of this concert opportunity. This was my chance.
I knew she liked Lenny’s Subs and Twizzlers. So that’s the dinner I packed in a picnic basket for us; we dined in my Honda Element in the parking lot before the show.
When we got back to Nashville around midnight, I put the car in park, looked her right in the eyes, and told her straightforwardly:
“Conveniently, next week is Valentine’s Day. And I really, really like you. I would like to take you out for Valentine’s.”
And the rest is history. We married about a year and half later; then about two and half years after that, our son Jack was born.
That’s the story of us. You could say it all started with us both responding to an email about participating in the taping of a TV show for CMT, as audience members. Or that it all actually started at Starbucks. Or the John Mayer concert. Or even Valentine’s Day 2007.
But ultimately, it started with me taking the initiative to pursue her, carefully and patiently. I wanted to marry my best friend. So I did.
Now I look around the room and see pictures featuring the memories of the mutually shared past five years of our lives, along with a corner of our living room filled with the noisy plastic toys of a blonde haired, blue eyed little boy known to many as “Jack-Man.”
Sure, I believe God orchestrated it all. He caused our paths to cross.
Yet still, when I survey my life of Jill and Jack, I can’t help but think, “Man, I made this happen. I convinced this girl to fall in love with me five years ago. Now we not only have a life together but also a son whom we love like crazy.”
I forever changed Jill Tuttle’s life. I just couldn’t leave her alone. I pursued her and won over her heart.
Of course, it will be an ongoing process. I’m not finished falling in love with her and I never will be.
Recently I was in a parking lot, sitting in the car with my son in the back seat, waiting for my wife to come out of the store. I was sort of dazed, listening to my (and my son’s) new favorite album, Graceland, by Paul Simon; probably considering the randomness of the line, “Don’t I know you from the cinematographer’s party?”
All of the sudden, my attention turned to a young woman walking out of the store. Thinking back to what attracted me to her first and most of all, was her smile. It told me a lot about her. That she was simple and down to earth, yet complex enough to make me curious. She was the kind of girl I wanted to know, for some reason.
Then she looked at me. Turns out, she was smiling at me.
This whole process only took a matter of two, maybe three seconds. I thought, wait, why am I looking at another woman and thinking about the way she is smiling? Why am I even paying attention to her right now?
After all, I personally am annoyed to see other happily (?) married guys point out “Spongeboob Sweatpants” girls to each other. I don’t think it’s cool. I’m the guy who when he talks about how sexy a woman is, it’s because I’m talking to my wife, about her. Not me talking to other guys about some stranger.
I thought about how out of the ordinary it was for me to notice her. Why was this thought process still continuing? It’s funny how just a few seconds can pass by like several minutes; like the way a dream does.
She was smiling at me. And she was walking towards the car. Then it hit me, like the U2 song says, she was already mine.
The only girl that could ever steal my heart away from my girl is… my girl.
On Thursday, October 5th, 2006, I looked across a large, crowded room and saw a beautiful 25 year-old girl who had no legitimate reason to be alone. In that wishful moment at The Factory in Franklin, Tennessee, I thought about how wonderful life could be if I could get that beautiful Puerto Rican stranger to fall in love with me. Turns out, she wasn’t Puerto Rican; it also turns out, she did fall in love with me- but it took exactly four months to the day for her to see me as more than just a friend.
Without knowing it, I applied a long-standing business principle of billionaire Warren Buffet, as explained in his son Peter Buffet’s book, Life is What You Make It:
“The idea is elegantly simple. Find something the world underappreciates, support it, don’t meddle, and allow time for the world to catch up in its valuation.”
I basically can’t stop obsessing over that very true concept. It doesn’t just apply to business; it appears to life in general.
How did a guy like me end up getting a girl like Jillanne Tuttle to fall in love with me? More importantly, why was this girl still even single, anyway?
Because she was underappreciated. So I supported her. And I didn’t meddle. Needless to say, it worked. That’s the only way I could have gotten a girl so out of my league like that.
I ignored the bad advice of well-meaning guy friends who tried to tell me I should come on strong and ask her out on a date from the very beginning. Instead, I privately vowed to be her friend first, not meddling with our friendship. Then interestingly, on February 5th, 2007, a switch flipped; she finally saw me in the romantic way that I had seen her from day one.
Is it crushing to my ego that she didn’t immediately fall in love with me for my weird and random conversations, not to mention my physical likeness of a plethora of Jewish actors such as Fred Savage, who played Kevin Arnold on The Wonder Years? (Featured right, with his son.)
Not really. Subconsciously I knew back then that if I were to truly capture the attention, as well as, the heart of this girl, it would take more than all the culturally valuable assets I didn’t possess.
The truth is, I happened to be the right guy in the right place at the right time, making a conscious effort to invest in a person who others foolishly overlooked. So I made the most of it. Thank God it worked.
That same principle is how The Dadabase was born. I realized there was all kinds of information for moms-to-be, but not for dads-to-be. So a few weeks after we found out we were going to have a baby, I decided to start a weekly blog from my fatherly perspective. Sure enough, that was sort of a rare thing- unique enough that American Baby took notice in their magazine in October of last year.
And when Parents.com started asking around in their search for an official daddy blogger, I happened to be the right guy in the right place at the right time, because their sister magazine American Baby had featured my blog on page 13 of their issue just five months before.
In other words, I found something the world had underappreciated (parenting advice and narration from the dad’s perspective), I supported it, I didn’t meddle, and the world began to catch up in its valuation.
As for using this concept in parenting, I’m already seeing how it translates. No other humans can see more value in my son than my wife and I can. So we will reasonably support him, do our best not to meddle in ways we shouldn’t, and wait for the world to catch up in his valuation.
It’s wild to think that we are surrounded by underappreciated things in this world everyday, just waiting to be supported and valued. What great things are we missing out on simply because certain rocks haven’t been turned over and certain doors have never been opened?
Some possible answers could include “flying cars like in Back to the Future, Part II,” “cell phone watches like Penny and Brain had on Inspector Gadget,” and “the comeback of Pepsi Clear.”